"David Bowie is" at the AGO

Art Gallery of Ontario
Oct 20, 2013 3:24PM
Straight from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, North America’s debut of hit exhibition includes culture icon’s original stage costumes, instruments, album art and music videos

TORONTO—This fall the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) offers North America its first chance to take an exciting odyssey through the world of pioneering artist David Bowie—musician, performer and style icon—in the acclaimed exhibition David Bowie is, direct from the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London, England. Spanning five decades and featuring more than 300 objects from Bowie’s personal archive, the multi-media show exposes the groundbreaking artist’s collaborations in the fields of fashion, sound, theatre, art and film. David Bowie is will open on Sept. 25, 2013 and runs to Nov. 27, 2013, giving Toronto two full months to live the experience. The AGO is the exhibition’s first stop on its world tour.

Acclaimed by the New York Times as “united in sound and vision in a way rarely seen in a museum,” David Bowie is marks the first international exhibition devoted to the British-born musician and performer (born David Robert Jones in 1947), who has sold more than 140 million albums to date throughout his genre-defying career. Organized thematically, the show immerses visitors in a spectacular and interactive trip through Bowie’s numerous personae and legendary performances, with particular attention paid to his artistic influences. His experiments with Surrealism, German Expressionism, Music Hall, mime and Japanese Kabuki performance are all explored in an explosion of colour, light and sound.“This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate a living artist whose radical artfulness of identity has had an enormous influence on art, design and contemporary culture as we know it,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “We are thrilled to work with the world-class V&A in bringing the provocative genius and vision of David Bowie to Toronto.”

Maintained by the artist himself, the David Bowie Archive is home to more than 75,000 objects. Working with Sandy Hirshkowitz, the collection’s archivist, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh (curators of theatre and performance at the V&A) were granted unprecedented access to explore and hand-pick the costumes, footage and objects for the exhibition. This marked the first time a museum has been allowed to display items from the collection.

David Bowie is will be on view on the fourth and fifth floors of the AGO’s contemporary tower. In addition to Bowie’s own handwritten set lists, lyrics, diary entries, instruments and sketches, the show highlights the many artists who have collaborated with the culture chameleon over the years. The collection includes:

• More than 50 stage costumes including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti;

• Music videos by David Mallet including Boys Keep Swinging (1979) and Let’s Dance (1983);

• Set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974);

• Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973); 

• Photographs by Helmut Newton, Brian Duffy and John Rowlands;

• Album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; and

• Excerpts from films and live performances including Top of the Pops (1972), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Saturday Night Live (1979).

David Bowie is was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. www.vam.ac.uk

Art Gallery of Ontario